Oregon Hatchery Research Center January 2014 David L. G. Noakes, Professor & Director

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1 Oregon Hatchery Research Center January 2014 David L. G. Noakes, Professor & Director Research Proposal Homing Homing behavior is a striking feature of the biology of Pacific salmon, and is the basis for most salmon management. Homing by wild fish is a critical feature of stock identification and conservation. Any disruption of homing behavior of wild fish will have negative consequences. Failure to show successful homing behavior (= straying) is frequently shown by hatchery fish and causes negative interactions of wild and hatchery fish. Stray hatchery fish are in the wrong places at the wrong times so that they are not available for designated harvest, they compete with wild fish and can interbreed with wild fish and cause reduced reproductive fitness for the wild fish. I propose an integrated research project that would extend over one life cycle (maximum of 5 years) for Chinook salmon and steelhead to measure the effects of chemical and magnetic imprinting on homing behavior of adults. Our results thus far have shown that the fish imprint upon the water in which they are incubated, with a strong preference for river water over well water. We predict that this imprinting is responsible for the homing behavior of adults to their spawning sites. Disruption of that early imprinting, by incubating fish in well water, or by transferring them to different water sources during early development, produces increased straying by hatchery fish. We have also shown that salmon and steelhead respond to geomagnetic cues throughout their lives, that they learn the geomagnetic coordinates of their freshwater rearing habitat, and that they use geomagnetism to direct their ocean migration and return to their spawning streams. Disruption of geomagnetic imprinting, by rearing fish in areas with electromagnetic influences or exposing them to electromagnetic influences during their freshwater migration will also produce increased stray rates in hatchery fish. We will rear Chinook and steelhead under controlled conditions at the OHRC to determine the timing and strength of their chemical and magnetic imprinting (ongoing, each year). We will use a designated ODFW production hatchery (hatcheries) to rear test groups of fish exposed to experimental conditions, and then monitor returns of those returning adults to compare stray rates of control and test fish (one life cycle). We will compare fish reared in well water and river water at the same hatchery fish reared in well water will have higher stray rates. Production hatcheries could then decide on water sources, timing of exposure of fish to different water and consider the possibility of exposure of fish to selected water to direct returning adults to designated spawning areas. We will compare fish reared in natural and experimentally altered magnetic fields at the same hatchery. Magnetic fields are readily altered by the presence of electrical wires near rearing tanks, the presence of iron reinforcing bars in tanks or raceways, or the presence of altered magnetic fields from low voltage electrical fields around rearing tanks. Fish reared in disrupted magnetic will have higher stray rates. These results will allow hatchery managers to judge the best design and operation to minimize (or maximize) geomagnetic imprinting, to control homing (or straying). 1

2 Budget Estimate Assuming 5 year project annual cost estimates Personnel 1 postgraduate student $30,000 2 seasonal student assistants $24,000 Transportation Vehicle rental OSU Motor Pool $12,000 Local between Corvallis and OHRC Local between OHRC and ODFW hatcheries Fish tagging, marking, tracking, monitoring $10,000 Feed and Rearing Expenses $16,000 OSU Indirect, communications, computer $12,000 ANNUAL TOTAL (estimate) $104,000 PROJECT TOTAL (estimate) $520,000 (NOTE: budget estimate ASSUMES significant contributions in kind from ODFW fish hatcheries, OSU personnel) Background Justification Pacific salmon and steelhead are characterized by the high degree of philopatry adults typically return to spawn at the very specific location where they began life (the spawning grounds of their parents). This textbook view of their behavior is the basis of much of the management practices for both wild and hatchery salmon and steelhead. The precise homing of wild fish is the basis for the multitude of local populations of wild salmon and steelhead, and it is a critical feature of conservation and management of those stocks. The converse of homing, straying, almost certainly occurs to some degree in some wild salmon and steelhead, when returning adults spawn in locations other than their natal sites, but it is not a significant concern. Straying is a serious and significant concern for hatchery fish. By 2

3 definition hatchery fish are produced with the intention that they will restrict their movements, whether as juveniles or spawning adults, to very specific times and locations. Straying by hatchery fish is a disaster for fishery mangers, by definition. Straying results in hatchery fish being in the wrong places at the wrong times. That will likely make them inaccessible to intended harvest, for example. More significantly, it will bring them into negative interactions with wild fish that will create major concerns. Those concerns include genetic interactions between wild and hatchery fish, including interbreeding, competition for spawning sites and depression of reproductive fitness of the wild fish. The negative interactions can also be ecological, including competition for feeding sites by juveniles, predation by hatchery fish on wild juveniles, mixed stock harvest, and competition during freshwater or marine migrations. The critical need is to understand the factors that determine homing behavior (= success ) in wild fish, and consequently straying behavior (= failure ) in hatchery fish. This requires a research program to investigate the development of orientation responses by young fish, both wild and hatchery, in natural and hatchery situations. Some of these can be accomplished by retrospective analyses of existing data on homing and straying by wild and hatchery fish but that approach will be very limited at best and can only lead to hypotheses that must be tested by controlled experiments. Homing and straying of wild and hatchery salmon and steelhead has been identified by ODFW as one of their key management concerns. I was a Co Editor on a major international publication that summarized the current state of knowledge for the ecological interactions of wild and hatchery salmonids. In addition, we convened a Research Workshop on that topic, held at the OHRC (8 9 February 2011), to address both the management concerns of ODFW and other agencies, and the research questions associated with that behavior of salmon and steelhead. That Research Workshop produced a Report and Recommendations to ODFW, a Report to the OHRC Advisory Committee and a request for research funding to Oregon Sea Grant (David Noakes, PI). That research proposal was funded by Oregon Sea Grant ( ) and has supported an active research program by Dr. Nathan Putman, working with Dr. Noakes and other collaborators (Oregon, California, Washington, North Carolina) at the OHRC. That research has produced a series of presentations at various international scientific meetings and high profile publications in the primary scientific literature with immediate implications for both basic science and practical management applications. We have established for the first time that salmon and steelhead can detect geomagnetic cues and use that information to direct their ocean migration. The fish have that ability from shortly after hatching, while they are still in the gravel redd. That ability persists and is used throughout their life, including spawning migration and homing of adults. Rearing fish inside a hatchery, or in hatchery raceways seriously disrupts their navigational responses. The implications of our research findings are immediate and obvious for both wild and hatchery fish. Anything that disrupts the magnetic environment of the fish at any time during their life history can result in decreased homing (increased straying). Examples of disruptive magnetic influences would include rearing fish inside hatcheries with electrical or magnetic (= iron) influences, transporting fish down river inside metal tanks or barges, constructing large metal structures in 3

4 nearshore areas (wave generating structures), laying electrical transmission cables near hatcheries or migration routes, or passing fish through hydroelectric dams. Our hypothesis is that fish develop their geomagnetic sense at a very early age, and use that ability to characterize their home location, and subsequently imprint on the geomagnetic coordinates of the location where they move from fresh to salt water as juveniles. They use geomagnetic cues for their ocean navigation and to return to the area of their freshwater home river. Our predictions are that if we rear fish in conditions with simulated geomagnetic conditions we can control the return migration of those fish as adults to specified locations. Continuation of this research will require at least one generation of the test species (Chinook and steelhead). The second approach we have taken to study homing and straying has been directed to olfactory imprinting. Fishery managers rely extensively on the assumption that the homing of wild and hatchery fish depends critically on their exposure to particular water sources around the time when juveniles move from freshwater to the ocean as smolts. The smolts imprint on that water, and selectively return to that chemical signal when they return from the ocean to their natal freshwater habitat for spawning. However, the management of this homing response of the fish is less than perfect, and consequently there is often a high stray rate of hatchery fish to areas other than their desired release sites. We are testing the hypothesis that the fish develop sequential imprinting during early life history, first to the water they experience during incubation in the spawning gravel before they imprint on the water they experience as smolts. We have initiated a series of experiments with collaborators from NOAA, Washington and ODFW to test this hypothesis. We have discovered that fish selectively imprint on surface (= river or stream water) during incubation, but not well water. This has very important consequences for management of hatchery fish, because some hatcheries operate on well water, some on river water, and others transfer fish between the two sources of water at different times during development. Our prediction is that this will result in increased stray rates in those hatchery fish, with all the negative consequences listed above. The need for continuation of this research is to test our predictions at a production hatchery, with one group of fish incubated in well water and a matched groups reared in surface (river) water. The fish will be identified by appropriate tagging methods, released as smolts and the behavior (homing or straying) of returning adults will be monitored. This will require at least one generation of the test species (Chinook and steelhead). References Putman, N. F., K. J. Lohmann, E. M. Putman, T. P. Quinn, A. P. Klimley, D. L. Noakes Evidence for geomagnetic imprinting as a homing mechanism in Pacific salmon. Current Biology 23:

5 Putman, N. F., K. J. Lohmann, T. P. Quinn, D. L. Noakes Innate map and compass ocean navigation of juvenile Chinook salmon. Current Biology (in press). Putman, N. F., M. Scanlon, D. L. Noakes Steelhead embryos use geomagnetic information for orientation of movement within spawning substrate. (in review) Rand, P. S., B. A. Berejikian, T. N. Pearsons, D. L. G. Noakes (editors) Ecological interactions between wild and hatchery salmonids. Springer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht. 361 pp. 5

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